Elijah Canlas Is More Than Just A Talented Actor—He's Also An Outspoken Advocate and Ally

Elijah Canlas Is More Than Just A Talented Actor—He’s Also An Outspoken Advocate and Ally

An actor with something to fight for.

Elijah Canlas is unafraid of challenges, whether it’s taking a role with much to say or speaking out about important social issues.

Trigger warning: this article talks about sensitive issues such as abuse, sexual assault, mental health issues, and the like.

Related: Stars On The Rise: These 10 Young Actors Are The New Generation of Leading Men

Elijah Canlas has very quickly cemented himself in the roster of dedicated, versatile rising stars in recent history. But beyond his talent, the young actor is also dedicated to bring awareness to issues that plague our society. Recently cast to play outspoken student leader and martial law victim Edgar Jopson in the upcoming Edjop: The Movie, his resolve to tell relevant stories through screen translates to his resolve to champion advocacies and speak out against injustice.

The actor is known for his diverse filmography and range, having seen success with roles like Cairo on BL series Gameboys (2020), Kalel on Kalel, 15 (2019), and Lancelot on About Us But Not About Us (2022). More recently, he’s earned acclaim for his work on teen youth drama Senior High (2023-2024) and GomBurZa (2023). Talk about range. This also extends to the issues he talks about. From denouncing the atrocities of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law to showing support for marginalized communities, Elijah tackles everything with meaningful intent and strong clarity in his voice. Check out some of what he champions below.


When filmmaker Jade Castro and some of his friends were arrested without warrant in February, a call for justice resounded on social media, advocating for their freedom. The group was charged with arson, but their arrest was based on unsound evidence, according to their counsel. They have since been freed. Elijah, who worked with the director on LSS (2019), amplified the call to free them, bringing attention to the injustices committed.


Elijah’s taken on a fair share of queer roles, but he’s not ignorant about his privilege. He puts in the effort to understand each character and portray them with respect. In a podcast, the actor revealed that About Us But Not About Us (2022) might be his last gay role in a while so as to “give more opportunities to real queer actors kasi there’s a lot out there, a lot that are good, also.”


In 2022, a VICE World article uncovered a long, systemic problem at an isolated, public arts high school in Laguna. With the help of victims speaking out about it, the decades-long physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of students that has been happening at Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) were brought to public discourse. Elijah’s older brother, Jerom Canlas, also an advocate and critic, was one of the students that brought light to the abuses happening at PHSA, having been a victim himself.

“I’m standing with the victims,” Elijah asserted when asked about the issue. “It’s a systemic problem, eh. ‘Di na siya isang tao lang, nasa sistema na siya.” He said he hopes the administration accepts the truth and acts on the issue.


elijah canlas advocate senior high

Early on, the cast of youth drama-thriller Senior High (2023-2024) acknowledged how heavy and sensitive the topics they would tackle in the series would be. In Senior High, topics such as sexual assault, suicide, and bullying. In an interview, Elijah admitted that he was going through a hard time, but that he was put on the show for a reason, and that he’s focused on relaying the right messages instead of simply being triggering for audiences.


A staunch critic of Marcos and martial law, Elijah’s been publicly outspoken about the dictator, especially during his controversial burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. His X page shows how vocal he is about Marcos not being a hero, oftentimes accompanied with evidence and readings about the atrocities committed in the era.

Elijah also expressed the same sentiment as he posted about Kian delos Santos, a victim of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration, in 2017 and in 2022. “Let the fight and struggle continue,” he wrote. “Fight for the truth. Fight for the past and future generations. Fight for good and humane governance. Never Forget.”


In relation to his public denouncement of martial law and the Marcos family, Elijah took the mic at a rally commemorating the 38th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution to call for an end to historical revisionism in relation to martial law. “Nasa henerasyon ko, nasa mga susunod na henerasyon kung paano poprotektahan ang katotohanan at paano natin lalabanan ang historical revisionism,” he declares. “Maninindigan tayo!”

Continue Reading: 8 Times Liza Soberano Used Her Platform To Help Make The World A Better Place